READY FACILITIES A PLUS FOR CNMI'S MINI GAMES BID
“We have most of the facilities already in place,” NMASA president Michael White said when asked what will be the CNMI's advantage over Vanuatu and Nauru.
The CNMI has the IAFF standard Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility, which is the proposed venue for athletics, football, and the opening and closing ceremonies.
Vanuatu, which the CNMI is considering as it toughest rival for the hosting rights, has the Korman Stadium, but the facility has deteriorated since the last time it hosted the Games in 1993, and Vanuatu is considering a major facelift, which would take years to complete. Vanuatu is also proposing to build eight new facilities to accommodate the 14 sports it is offering for the Games.
Nauru, which listed 12 sports, has no existing stadium for athletics and is proposing to build several new facilities to meet international standards. Nauru has no existing facilities for boxing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, and beach volleyball, and its venues for basketball, power lifting, weightlifting, and tennis will need major upgrades.
In contrast, the CNMI track facility is one of the bests in the region and is now under the Northern Marianas Athletics' management. Then just last Tuesday, the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation approved the $10,000 appropriation for the maintenance of the facility. Its grandstand was just built last year and can accommodate 1,000 spectators. An expansion to the grandstand has been proposed and it will seat an additional 2,500 individuals.
Inside the Oleai Complex is the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, which is the proposed venue for volleyball. The Ada Gym is now closed to the public for renovation. A new roofing, floor, and bleachers will be installed with renovations expected to be completed this September. Other existing facilities in the CNMI are in good condition and will only need minor repairs.
The CNMI is offering 11 sports for the 2017 Mini Games. The list includes athletics, football, golf, swimming, lawn tennis, canoe racing (va'a), beach and indoor volleyball, baseball, sailing, and triathlon. Swimming is one of the most popular sports in the Pacific, but neither Nauru nor Vanuatu listed swimming in its calendar of events, while the CNMI has the 50-meter Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in Marpi for the competition. An under construction 25-meter pool at Saipan Southern High School can also be considered as a venue.
The battle for the hosting rights for the 2017 Mini Games became a three-nation competition after Norfolk Island withdrew its bid last Sunday.
“We are hopeful that Norfolk will throw whatever support they had over to us. Our most serious competition was and still is Vanuatu. Our biggest advantage is our per diem, which is the lowest ($30). Also, we have never hosted the Games before, whereas Vanuatu has,” White said.